For you lovely readers and those of you taking a peek, this is the NEW prologue for Pure Red Sand: An Expensive Retreat. Enjoy!
Goosebumps were apparent on the woman’s arms even though it was hot outside. The man across from her stared, his hard eyes buried in the traces of excess. The suit strained a button or two but he didn’t move.
“Mrs. Cloutier, you must understand that your husband is gone. He’s not coming back.”
“I never thought any different.”
The seat creaked as he sighed and readjusted himself. “Then why are you still here? You were booked to leave yesterday on the main flight. We’ve paid up your salary. I don’t understand the problem.”
“I do a good job here. I clean the school every night and I do the board office on Mondays. You need me.”
He stood, walked to the window before him and stared out at the Martian landscape. Not many people moved in the square below. Those that did were marked by the noonday heat. Finally, he turned back to the woman. “Mrs. Cloutier, you know we can replace you. There are any number of people looking for employment here. Cleaners are very easy to come by. It’s time you went back to Earth.” That decided, he settled back down in his chair and pulled up the departure schedule. “I can get you on a flight tomorrow.”
“I need to offer you something to make it worthwhile to keep me.” Her terse voice sounded off in the decadent surroundings.
“Mrs. Cloutier, you’ve lived here almost eight years. We own just about everything you have here. There’s nothing you can offer us.”
“You don’t own everything. There’s Nadine.”
“Your daughter? She’s seven years old. We don’t take workers that young for the mine. You know that.”
“Don’t be daft,” she snapped, almost secure now. “In ten years, she’ll be old enough to train. Educate her on Earth and I’ll make sure she comes back here to work. You need medics.”
Silence stretched in the room as he considered her offer. “What kind of guarantee do we have?”
“You control the ships off this planet. Give it some thought.” An almost smile brushed her lips. He was hers now.
“How do we know you won’t change your mind?”
The slow years to come ground down on that decision until she was left with empty hands and a choice that became a prison.
For the rest of it, you’ll have to pick up the book!